Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
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*****My Sister's Keeper

by Jodi Picoult

Reviewed May 7, 2004.
Atria Books, New York, 2004.  422 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (F PIC).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #3, Literary Fiction

This book has an amazing power to draw me in.  When My Sister’s Keeper arrived at the library, I saw it sounded like a pretty heavy topic and was written in present tense, so I didn’t think I’d want to read it.  Then I opened to the beginning and began reading and was captivated.  I decided I should check it out that day and read it before it hit the bestseller list.  (I didn’t succeed; it’s there already.)  When I got a chance to start it, my husband was out of town and I was still a little behind the time from a quick trip to the States.  I thought I could read a chapter or two before I went to sleep.  When I finished the book at 4 AM, I was very disappointed with myself but not at all disappointed with the book.

Before Anna was born, her big sister Kate was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.  Their brother Jesse’s blood wasn’t a match to be a bone marrow donor for Kate.  So their parents decided to have another child.  They chose an embryo who would be a perfect match for Kate, so Anna owes her very existence to Kate’s illness.

Anna’s first donation to Kate was stem cells from her umbilical cord.  Years later, she donated some lymphocytes, then after that some bone marrow.  Now her parents expect her to donate a kidney to keep Kate alive a little longer.

As the book opens, thirteen-year-old Anna goes to a lawyer to sue her parents for the medical rights to her own body.  She doesn’t want to donate the kidney.

This book draws you in, showing you all sides of a complex issue.  The story is told from the viewpoints of Anna, her mother, her father, her brother, and the lawyers in the case.  It starts with Anna’s suit, then reveals the whole story of Kate’s illness and how the family has been affected over the years.  There is also some suspense and some secrets that are revealed along the way.  I have to admit I don’t really like the ending, but it does put a capstone on the whole story.

My Sister’s Keeper is enjoyable, thought-provoking reading.  Don’t start reading it unless you are prepared to finish!

Review of another book by Jodi Picoult:
Vanishing Acts

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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